Mad Mark’s tells the story about a young man named Mark Isidro and his unexpected foray into the artisan ice cream business. “It’s a little strange,” he recalls. “It all began with a little corner ice cream shop in the States that I used to frequent back when I had been staying there. I was a fresh graduate without a job, so I spent a lot of time lingering in the store and just watching things happen. The owner, an old man, took notice of my interest and became kind enough to teach me a few trade secrets. Upon my return to the Philippines, I decided that I wanted to go with a similar neighborhood ice cream place concept.”
Artisan ice cream is already well on its way in creating its own niche in the Filipino consumer industry. So many places that boast of all-natural ingredients going into unique flavors have wormed their way into the heart of Filipino ice cream lovers. Suddenly, it’s not just chocolate, vanilla and strawberry anymore. Alongside fantastic artisan renditions of these classic flavours, we now have the option to try cookie dough, red velvet and even white chocolate black truffle ice cream. Indeed, Mark has come up with the right idea at the right time.
Mad Mark’s takes pride in choosing quality over quantity. They don’t have a multitude of crazy ice cream flavours, but work diligently at giving their customers the best of the few flavours that they do carry. Mark does most of the work on the ice cream himself; he refuses to let anyone else do the mixing despite it being a long, time-consuming craft. “It’s a lot of work,” he shares. “I have to keep a close eye on the mixtures and do a lot of taste-testing, especially with my vanilla because each batch will taste different due to the nature of the ingredients.”
When I was at the shop, he had me try small portions of some of the available flavours to see which ones I would like best. The two flavours that I ultimately fell hard for are the Madagascar Vanilla Bean and the Apple Saigon Cinnamon. Compared to commercial vanilla ice cream, Mad Mark’s version of this beloved classic is a bit rougher around the edges, but more flavourful. This is one of the things I enjoy most about artisan ice cream because there is no flavour deprivation involved—you really get to experience the ice cream for all that its worth. They use vanilla beans imported from Madagascar, so it’s no surprise that this version of vanilla comes with a bit of a kick. The apple-flavoured ice cream, on the other hand, is something that I don’t come across very often. I’m a big fan of apple pie, so I was glad to finally have access to an ice cream that captures the very spirit of it. It has a very light, delicate taste; it’s definitely a must-try for me. At P68 a scoop or P98 for two scoops, Mad Mark’s well-made artisan ice cream is an absolute steal.
Aside from their ice cream, what makes Mad Mark’s a great place to spend time and money at are their food items. Sadly, I did not get to try their man sandwiches during my visit due to the unavailability, but I went home a happy writer nonetheless thanks to the great things—quality items at amazing prices—Mark had me try.
The Herb Parmesan Fries (P160) is one of the best fries I’ve had in awhile. They are basically your ordinary fries made much better with Parmesan cheese and select herbs. I also had some Zing Wings (P170), which are four pieces of three-joint wings drizzled in lightly spicy zing sauce.
The best surprise, however, was the 11oz Bootstrap Steak (P260). It is very tender and flavourful (the sauce is fantastic!), and is great for sharing with a companion. No complaints in the food department here.
My visit to Mad Mark’s taught me that a deep affection for ice cream is necessary for going into business with it. So much work goes into hunting down ingredients and mixing your own ice cream because you have to give it your 100% if you want your customers to have the best. “My goal is to make people happy,” Mark shares. “It’s not really the profit I’m after here. If people are happy with my ice cream, then that will give me the ultimate satisfaction.”